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Crisps with less salt taste just as good

The pleasure of eating crisps is not diminished by cutting the salt content significantly. Crisps taste just as good when containing 30 percent less salt. Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark have come to this surprising conclusion by testing 200 young persons’ taste in crisps.

By Birgitte Dalgaard, , 6/9/2020

9 out of 10 Danes eat too much salt, but we can well reduce the salt significantly in crisps without deteriorating the taste.

This is demonstrated by a research result from the University of Southern Denmark, where researchers have been testing crisps with different salt content on 200 young people.

– It is notable that our research shows that consumers like the crisps that contain 30 percent less salt just as well. At the same time, diminishing the salt content did not affect the texture of the crisps, says Associate Professor Davide Giacalone, who has published the findings in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Food Quality and Preference.

It is notable that our research shows that consumers like the crisps that contain 30 percent less salt just as well.

Davide Giacalone, Associate Professor

The crispy and salty potato slice is among the Danes' favorite snacks, but too much salt increases blood pressure and the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

– In the test where participants were served sour cream & onion crisps, the results showed that the participants preferred the crisps containing 30 percent less salt than the reference product, which is a popular brand of crisps on the market.

– The reference product scored 5.2 points in the blind test, while the same crisps with 30 percent less salt scored 5.7 on a 9-point scale, says Davide Giacalone.

The brand controls our taste

Young people aged between 18 and 30 eat the most crisps, which is why the researchers invited 200 young people in the target group to taste crisps with different salt content.

– The participants were divided into a group of 100 to whom it was declared that they ate crisps with 30 percent less salt. The other half of the test subjects were subjected to a blind test where they did not know what crisps they ate. Subsequently, participants were asked about taste and crispness, explains Davide Giacalone.

However, the crisps test clearly showed that our taste is not objective, but to a great extent controlled by the brand. The researchers could clearly see that the taste of the crisps was perceived differently depending on whether or not the participants were informed about what type of crisps they ate.

– We found that the brand has a strong effect on how consumers perceive the taste. Test participants markedly preferred the reference product when informed about the content. We observed the opposite when the participants were exposed to blind tests, says Davide Giacalone and elaborates:

– So in addition to thinking about taste and texture, product developers also have to think a lot about labeling the product when developing salt-reduced products. The brand has an incredible power for consumers.

Photo: Tamas Pap / Unsplash

Meet the researcher

Davide Giacalone is Associate Professor in Consumer Product Testing and Optimization at SDU Innovation and Design Engineering. His research centers on consumers’ perceptions and behavior towards everyday products, primarily within food and other fast-moving consumer goods.


The article

Read the scientific article written on the basis of the crisps test conducted by Associate Professor Davide Giacalone of SDU Innovation and Design Engineering together with his former master student in Product Development and Innovation, Sara Kongsted.

Read more

Editing was completed: 09.06.2020